Chopper rescues man after stingray attack

 Chopper rescues man after stingray attack

A day’s diving near Riversdale Beach was going swimmingly for Reece Atkinson and his mates.

That is, until he went to leave the water.

“I was stepping over one of the last rocks and all of a sudden had a huge pain coming up my leg.”

Mr Atkinson said he guessed had had been bitten by a shark.

“But once we got my leg above water, we could see a hole in my calf muscle and we thought it was more likely to be a stingray.

“I’m pretty sure I stood on its back and [the attack] was a natural reaction. I don’t blame it.”

He says the sea ran red with his blood.

“When I first stood up in the water, it was basically like a garden hose running.”

Mr Atkinson had been diving with a fellow volunteer from the Eketahuna Fire Brigade who helped to apply a tourniquet.

It was then an excruciating 20 minute drive to a relative’s house, where Mr Atkinson was soon met by the Wellington Westpac Rescue Helicopter.

“The chopper was there bloody quick,” he says.

He was flown to Wellington Hospital and underwent a three hour operation to repair the punctured leg.

Mr Atkinson says his partner was also assisted by the rescue helicopter after being involved in a car accident about six years ago.

And, he had also witnessed its value to the community during incidents he attended as a volunteer firefighter.

Now back on his feet, Mr Atkinson is encouraging people to give generously during the Westpac Chopper Appeal in May.

“I know my father’s already put a decent donation forward. No-one knows when they’re going to need help”.

2018 Westpac Chopper Appeal launch – May 1, 2018

Running throughout May, the Westpac Chopper Appeal is supported by fundraising activities in schools and community centres, as well as a nationwide street appeal on Friday May 18.

The Chopper Appeal aims to raise funds and continued awareness for the rescue helicopter services with all donations going back to the region they are collected from.

More than 7000 missions were undertaken by local rescue helicopters around the country last year.

Westpac funds the marketing and administration costs of the Appeal, and distributes all of the funds raised back to donors’ local rescue helicopter trust.

Go to for more information and to donate.

Ways you can donate this Chopper Appeal:

• at any Westpac Branch
• online at
• text your postcode to 2449 to make a $3 donation.*

Westpac is the principal sponsor of the Auckland, Waikato, Wellington and Canterbury Westpac rescue helicopters.

The annual Westpac Chopper Appeal helps raise funds for all regional rescue helicopter services around New Zealand.

*For text donations, additional network charges may apply. 100% of your donation goes to your local chopper. Terms and conditions apply, to view please visit